Joe Biden has named Indian-American health policy expert Vidur Sharma as testing advisor in his COVID-19 Response Team, as the US President-elect laid out his ambitious goal to intensify vaccinations across the country to tackle the spread of the deadly pandemic.
The announcement of Sharma's appointment as Policy Advisor for Testing was made by Biden on Friday along with additional members of the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
During the Obama administration, Sharma served as a health policy advisor on the Domestic Policy Council.
Sharma supported the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, aligned Federal Department and Agencies, and collaborated with community stakeholders to further the administration's health policy agenda.
He also served as Deputy Research Director with Protect Our Care, a coalition of advocacy organisations dedicated to preventing the repeal of the ACA. Since then, Sharma has advised health sector organisations on value-based care arrangements at PwC Strategy.
Born in Wisconsin and raised in Minnesota, and the son of Indian immigrants, Sharma is a graduate of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Saint Louis University.
Among other appointments announced Friday were Amy Chang, Policy Advisor; Abbe Gluck, Special Counsel; David Kessler, Chief Science Officer of COVID Response; Rosa Po, COVID Response Team Deputy Chief of Staff; Andy Slavitt, Senior Advisor to the COVID Response Coordinator; Ben Wakana, Deputy Director of Strategic Communications & Engagement; and B. Cameron Webb, Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity.
The Transition said that the appointees will play integral roles in implementing and executing Biden's strategy to effectively and equitably vaccinate as many people as possible, while also increasing testing and taking other important steps that will be key to changing the course of the pandemic.
"We are in a race against time, and we need a comprehensive strategy to quickly contain this virus. The individuals announced today will bolster the White House's COVID-19 Response Team and play important roles in carrying out our rescue plan and vaccination programme. At a time when American families are facing numerous challenges, I know these public servants will do all that is needed to build our nation back better," said Biden.
Biden on Friday announced an ambitious goal of inoculating 100 million Americans with COVID-19 vaccines in the first 100 days of his administration.
During his election campaign, Biden, who will take over as the 46th President of the US, made tackling COVID-19 and the economic hardships it had put on Americans a core pitch to voters.
The US is the worst-affected country in the world with more than 23,523,000 COVID-19 infections and 391,955 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus tracker.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said, "containing the coronavirus pandemic is one of the defining challenges of our time. This outstanding team will help us defeat this challenge by helping get this virus under control, responsibly reopen our economy, and safely reopen our schools. I look forward to working closely with these dedicated public servants not only to address this urgent crisis, but also to build better preparedness for future pandemics and other public health threats." "There is hard work ahead to contain COVID-19. These appointees are immensely qualified to join our White House efforts to contain the coronavirus and build our nation back better. The president and vice president-elect have put together a bold rescue package and national vaccination plan and these individuals will work tirelessly by marshalling every part of our government, working directly with communities, and trusting science to make it a reality," said incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.